Baptism, Ephphatha, Evangelization, Faith, Fear, Isaiah 35:4-6, Mark 7:32-36
“32And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; 34then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphetha!” – that is, “Be opened!”. 35And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. 36He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.” – Mark 7:32-36 (NAB)
When I heard this Gospel reading yesterday morning at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Muncie, Indiana I couldn’t help but think back to April 2013. I will never forget the day when I first heard this scripture passage – the morning of Easter Saturday. Later that night, after my baptism, first communion and confirmation, I became Catholic.
I wrote about the experience a few days later in my first ever blog post, My First Easter Vigil Mass. Thinking back to that post, my focus was on verses 35 and 36 – why did Jesus not want those whom he healed to tell anyone? But, this Sunday, my mind settled on the last two words of verse 34, “Be opened!”
Just minutes before my attention was captured by those two words, I heard the first reading from Isaiah in the Old Testament:
“4Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. 5Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; 6then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” – Isaiah 35:4-6 (NAB)
So, when the Deacon read, “Be opened!”, I had a slight epiphany. I knew that Jesus meant more than to cease being deaf and dumb when he cured the man. He meant exactly what the celebrant says at a child’s baptism, “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
Ever since that April two years ago, I have tried earnestly to be open to God’s Word and to proclaim my faith. I have made that effort not because I remembered and tried to live up to that which the celebrant prayed over me at my baptism, but because I wanted to, and because it was what I know is right.
Now, looking back, I began to wonder if I have given it my all. Have I been as open to His Word as I could be? Have I studied and tried to understand as much as I ought? Have I shied away from professing my faith to others because of the fear of not knowing enough to defend myself? Have I helped others to better understand and strengthen their faith or have I been laissez-faire in evangelizing?
The answer, of course, is, regardless of how well I’ve done, I can still do better.
When was the last time you asked yourself those questions?
“Lord God, thank You for all I’ve learned in the last two years. But, I need Your help to continue to do better. Please, help me to always be open to and understand Your Word. And, give me courage to proclaim my faith and help others live theirs. Amen.”
(Ephphatha – Be Open! was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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19th Gkid said:
When I got home from Mass this morning I decided to GOOGLE Mark 7 to see if I could find out why Jesus told the deaf/dumb man not to tell anyone. Thanks for your explanation. Makes sense to me.
Jerry Robinson said:
Thanks for stopping by Reflections of a Lay Catholic! Like you, I didn’t understand until our priest explained it to me. Made sense to me, too. God bless and come back and visit soon.